The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul last month, The Washington Post reported Friday. Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, pictured in 2015.
The CIA has high confidence in its assessment, after examining multiple sources of intelligence, including a call between the crown prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman and Khashoggi.
Khalid, the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., reportedly offered Khashoggi, who was a Washington Post columnist, assurances that he would be safe at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, where he needed to get documents for his marriage to a Turkish woman.
A spokesman for the CIA declined to comment to the Post. The Saudi government has denied bin Salman’s involvement in Khashoggi’s death.
Included in the US intelligence analyzed by the CIA was a phone call the prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman made to Khashoggi, encouraging the journalist to make the trip to the consulate to get the documents. Sources told the Post that Khalid made the call at his brother’s command.
People familiar with said the call was intercepted by U.S. intelligence.
Khashoggi, a former Saudi royal insider who became a critic of the country’s government, went missing in October after he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain papers for his upcoming marriage.
The Saudi government offered changing explanations for Khashoggi’s disappearance.
The CIA also examined an audio recording from inside the Saudi consulate provided by Turkey and a phone call placed from inside the consulate after Khashoggi was killed].
Maher Mutreb, an alleged member of the Saudi hit team and a security official for the crown prince, placed the phone call to a top aide for bin Salman informing the aide that the job had been done, people familiar with the call told the newspaper.
The Trump administration on Thursday imposed penalties on 17 individuals over their alleged roles in the murder of the dissident journalist, a Virginia resident, who was a contributor to The Washington Post.
The fresh sanctions from the Treasury Department come hours after Saudi prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty for five people charged in Khashoggi’s death.
“The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement. “These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement saying that “the State Department will continue to seek all relevant facts, consult Congress, and work with other nations to hold accountable those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.”
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